The advent of winter sparks change to the coastal bays and estuaries. The fall patterns of fish relating to shallow water, under the birds, or in the marsh become less reliable as their metabolism slows down and food becomes scarce. As a result fish feed less regularly compared to the warmer months. Gone are the days of fish gorging themselves to the point of bloated contentment, like we, as Americans, do on our day of thanks.
Predatory and prey fish alike begin to correlate with deep water structure: reefs, channels, and bayous. Slower fishing and subtle bites become the norm. Methodical and persistent presentations are usually the most effective. The trade-off is the big reward; any bite may be the fish of a lifetime.
Winter fishing on the Texas Coast can be summed up as hit or miss. Fishing during this time of year can be gruelingly slow at times and fast and furious at others. When the fishing is slow bites are few and far in between, but during peak conditions the action can be nonstop. Slow days on the water are often compounded by the weather and conditions.
But changes in climate and fish behavior aren’t the only things that must change. The most important change is internal. Changes in psyche are also in order.
This time of year is when resolve and perseverance pay off. Not everyone can withstand the frigid conditions that winter generates. You have to mentally prepare yourself to keep from losing faith in what you are trying to accomplish. At times it’s easy to become discouraged but you have to position yourself in high likelihood areas and remind yourself that any bite could possibly be that trophy fish.
This is also the time of year when paying dues becomes absolutely vital for success. Paying dues is about learning how every aspect (tide, wind, current, etc.) affects an area and the fish that inhabit it. Also equally important is spending ample time on the water therefore increasing the chances at crossing paths with the fang-toothed leviathans of our inshore waters.
Some people think trout junkies are crazy or hardcore for enduring the mental and physical anguish just to catch a fish but they don’t understand the chase. It’s not about bragging rights. It’s not about catching the most or the biggest.
The chase is about setting and accomplishing a goal. It’s about coming face to face with a rare, majestic creature that has survived and overcome hardship. It’s about personal fulfillment knowing that you’ve accomplish something few will. It’s about the challenge.
Big trout season is upon us, so it’s time to dust off the thermals, fleece, breathable waders, and hardware (see picture below) in preparation. This is a farewell to fall for all the good memories. You will be severely missed, but only until I feel that subtle bite of the gator sitting on the ledge of a reef waiting for an easy meal.
This winter you never know where you might find me. I might be plugging a bayou at dawn or wading a reef with a big topwater during nightfall. One thing is certain, I’ll have my game face on, and I’ll be grinding for that ONE big bite. Bring on the cold fronts.